A Q&A With September/October 2023 Lyric Contest Winner Eryn Michel

“Wine Well Spent”
Written by Eryn Michel and Kimberly Shires
Interview with Eryn Michel by American Songwriter

Eryn Michel scored 1st Place in the September/October 2023 American Songwriter Lyric Contest for her song “Wine Well Spent.” American Songwriter caught up with Eryn to get the scoop on the inspiration behind the lyrics and other musings.

What made you decide to enter the American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest?

I took a 3 ½ year hiatus from contests, performing, and feedback sessions because I realized I was starting to take way too many opinions into account with my writing. As weird as it sounds, I knew I was ready to enter contests again when my goal wasn’t even to win. I entered just as a way of signaling to myself, “I’m here and I’m ready for more.” Winning didn’t even enter my mind.

How did you feel when you learned you won?

It was the most beautiful déjà vu. I won back in November/December 2017 with my solo write ‘Old Habits,’ and I was flooded with that same magic feeling, but it meant even more this time because the next phone call I made was to my co-writer Kimberly Shires. We found out on her birthday. She’s my most frequent collaborator and one of my closest friends. We met at a co-writing retreat hosted by our mutual artist friend Eli Lev mere weeks before COVID lockdown went into effect, and ever since we’ve been bouncing ideas off of each other, pushing each other on our craft, growing as home producers, and helping each other establish concrete goals for our music. As a writer and friend, she has given me so many gifts, so I couldn’t think of a better birthday present for her than this.

What was the inspiration for “Wine Well Spent”? Why did you want to write it?

I didn’t so much want to write it as much as the chorus lyrics and melody came tumbling out of my head together while I was doing laundry. I had to drop the basket and lunge for my phone to start the voice memo. I knew pretty quickly that ‘Wine Well Spent’ was going to be a co-write with someone, so I let it simmer for a few weeks before I realized that Kimberly was the collaborator for it. I sent her the full chorus with nonsense placeholder lyrics for the verses just to establish the meter and to see if she wanted to help me on it, and I’m so glad she said yes.

Since 1984, American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters get noticed and have fun. Enter the 2023 Lyric Contest today before the deadline:

What’s the story behind the song “Wine Well Spent”?

C’mon, American Songwriter. I’m a happily married woman and I’m trying to stay that way. I’d like to think almost everybody has a person that they fondly look back on and who you wouldn’t change your life to be with, but you also wouldn’t change what you had with them. So once Kimberly agreed to finish ‘Wine Well Spent’ with me, we met up on her back deck with our guitars and a bottle of wine, and we wrote it as true as it could be for us. But we wanted other people to hear whoever that someone is for them in it.

How long have you been writing lyrics?

I’ve been writing poems since I was three, and they morphed into lyrics when I picked up the guitar in my teen years. It has been a daily practice for six years, but last year I realized I was still holding back a lot in my lyrics. It wasn’t until I listened to Brandi Carlile’s audiobook, Broken Horses, and heard her talk about the power of hypnotherapy that I knew the path to better lyrics led through my deepest fears and traumas (big shoutout to my clinical hypnotherapist Joey Labossiere, who is also a songwriter and helped me uncover so many blocks to creativity). I was initially so scared that healing would mean I wouldn’t have access to the pain that helps me write, but the exact opposite happened. Now I get to the truest lyric a lot faster and without it wrecking me to get there.

What’s next for you?

I am finally making the jump to full-time songwriting, voice-over and spending quality time with my family. I want to keep volunteering with Warrior Music Foundation and help other veterans like me find their healing through song. I’m also looking forward to diving into more projects with Kimberly as she launches Hear Me Roar Studio, a woman-owned and operated boutique production house that nurtures women to find their voice in the studio.  If folks want to keep up with my upcoming releases and performances, my website is erynmichel.com.

What would you tell other songwriters who are considering entering the Lyric Contest?

You won just by writing the song and you know in your core that you love what you did with that song. Then forget that you even submitted it and keep on writing more songs. When I won for ‘Old Habits’ in 2017, it changed my entire songwriting life to that point. I met people and got opportunities to perform that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I hope all songwriters are able to get out there and find their community and win just by showing up to see where the song will take them.

Since 1984, American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters get noticed and have fun. Enter the 2023 Lyric Contest today before the deadline:

Photo courtesy Eryn Michel

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